This won't hurt a bit
College Nurse Sharon Limes
Photo by Steven Doll
Limes’ soft-spoken confidence and well-placed humor have come in handy during 10 years as college nurse. Now she’s giving retirement a shot.
During the decade Sharon Limes has walked the halls of Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, she’s noticed an interesting trend: Students, staff and faculty tend to give a wide berth to her as they pass.
“Sometimes when I walk down the hall, I feel like a person who has leprosy,” muses Limes, the college nurse. “It’s almost like they think I have a needle in my pocket.
“They see me, and they think shots,” she continues, laughing.
In truth, there’s no cause for concern. Limes’ soft-spoken voice and soothing demeanor can calm the fears of most any student, no matter how extreme. That should come as no surprise from a woman whose mantra is “speak softly, move quickly.”
Of course, Limes is always ready to throw in a quip for good measure.
She shares a realization she had in July 2002 — during her first summer at the college — when that initial wave of flu shots came in.
“The first time I had to do flu shots I was just so shocked about how big the fear of needles is in dental school,” says Limes. “I’ve had plenty of experiences trying to calm students down. I tell them I need to know ahead of time if they’re going to turn green and need to lie down.”
“Nothing just happens. You walk through doors that open to you.
You serve joyfully and work diligently.”
Over the past 10 years, Limes has become a mainstay, implementing sound health and wellness procedures while creating an environment of warmth and comfort at the dental school health clinic. Dr. Dean Hudson, associate professor and associate dean of clinical affairs, likes to describe Limes’ persona as a “velvet-covered brick” — gentle, yet no-nonsense. He refers to Limes’ “underlying current of dry humor” as her hallmark.
These traits will be missed as Limes commences her retirement at the end of January. On a Thursday afternoon shortly before Thanksgiving, she took a few minutes to talk about what brought her to the dental school, the balancing act between paperwork and personable care, and of course, some highlights from nearly 10 years of service as the college nurse.
Despite the fact Limes came to TAMHSC-BCD on the heels of a 20-year career as an occupational nurse for a telecommunications company, her introduction to the college was more than mere coincidence.
“They were closing down the on-site nursing at our company,” says Limes. It meant she’d have to transition to telenursing, which was a far cry from providing patients with face-to-face care on a daily basis.
“I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Limes says. Luckily, the timing couldn’t have been better. She knew a TAMHSC-BCD employee and had talked with him in the past about nursing opportunities at the dental school.
“I don’t really recall it, but I left him with the thought that when the current nurse retired, he’d give me a holler,” says Limes.
That’s exactly what happened.
Decade-long balancing act
Ever since, Limes has provided infection control — think TB skin tests and flu vaccines — combined with quality assurance, exposure management and wellness initiatives. On one hand, Limes gets the chance to act as “a mother to the world,” a distinctive role she says nurses fill.
“People can walk in your door and say anything, and you’re expected to have an answer,” Limes explains. That’s OK with her; over the years, it has allowed her to build strong relationships throughout the dental school.
“Sharon is always available to help, not only as a caring nurse, but as a good friend.”
On the other hand, Limes is expected to handle copious paperwork, like the new student medical records she helps compile every summer.
Her dual roles can be a bit of a balancing act, but according to Hudson, she seems to handle the responsibilities just fine.
“Sharon exudes the confidence of professional knowledge and skill while providing care and guidance to her clientele,” he says.
Meeting the needs of students, faculty and staff is something Limes says she has enjoyed since her first day at the college.
“Coming here and working with the students as compared to working with solely adult workers was very refreshing,” says Limes. “They still are learning, and you can impart wisdom and knowledge on them. It’s been a wonderful environment.”
Other highlights for Limes include memories of working with Dr. Thomas Hasegawa, who was associate dean of clinical affairs until his passing in 2005, and co-authoring a Texas Dental Journal article with Dr. Roger Alexander, now professor emeritus in oral and maxillofacial surgery. She has enjoyed opportunities to emerge from her self-described “cage on Level B” to do some mingling during receptions on the college’s sixth floor.
Of course, there were countless conversations with her “1 o’clock lunch bunch,” of which she and Janea Woosley, continuing education associate, are the only two members not yet retired — at least for the time being.
“Sharon is always available to help, not only as a caring nurse, but as a good friend,” says Woosley. “She will be missed, but I know she will stay busy with church, grandkids, gardening and many more fun family adventures.”
No sign of slowing down
Limes has a matter-of-fact response for anyone who asks why she’s retiring.
“It’s time to do it,” she says, adding that she’s looking forward to spending more time with Rollie, her husband of 45 years. On the agenda are visits with their oldest daughter’s family in Nashville, Tenn., and get-togethers with her other daughter and son, whose families live in nearby Wylie, Texas.
When Limes and her husband aren’t with their kids and seven grandchildren, they would like to go on medical mission trips to Panama with Lavon Drive Baptist Church, which they’ve attended for more than 30 years.
“When I’m at home I don’t expect to be within four walls; I plan to be out there serving,” says Limes.
“Nothing just happens,” she adds. “You walk through doors that open to you. You serve joyfully and work diligently.”